By Andrew Cantwell
With the passage of a planning scheme amendment at last week’s Casey Council meeting, Berwick is one step closer to farewelling one of the landmark properties in the village, the former Clover Cottage restaurant site, on Manuka Road.
The site is one of four large-acre blocks – totalling 18.4 hectares – to be rezoned to residential under amendment C231, which now awaits only the State Planning Minister’s approval.
Local developer Parklea will move within the year to commence development of much of the subject land for new housing – but a private developer Jinguang Pan owns the historic Clover Cottage land, and its fate is less clear.
It’s likely the original cottage behind the restaurant building – dating back to the late 1800s – may be retained, but the restaurant and landscaped gardens may make way for the needs of suburbia.
Star News was unable to make contact with Jinguang Pan before deadline.
For close to 40 years, Clover Cottage was part of the social fabric of Berwick – and the wider City of Casey – hosting Mayoral Dinners, Rotary club, Inner Wheel and business group meetings, Oaks Day parties not to be missed, fund-raising luncheons, and an endless number of proposals, weddings, anniversaries and other significant family events.
Its stately gates, English and French fountains and park-like gardens were matched by opulent finishes within the restaurant, making every meal a treasured memory.
The old English style venue was so popular that bookings had to be made sometimes six months in advance.
Closed at the very end of 2016 – and going out with a gala New Year’s Eve party – the former owners John and Engelina Chipperfield and business partner Trevor Burr were humbled by the community outpouring that greeted the restaurant’s final months.
Mr Chipperfield said at that time that when the partners had bought the property from the Tuckfield estate in 1974, there had been farmland through to Dandenong.
The relentless pace of the South East Growth Corridor had finally caught up, and after five decades in the hospitality sector: “Our bones have told us to quit while we’re ahead,” he said.
“It’s very sad and difficult for us to part with the cottage after years of developing the business and servicing people in the Berwick community for a good 40 years.
“What I’ll miss most is our customer base. It’s precious to us. We were so young when we opened up and we’ve seen lots of generations through the restaurant.
“We’ve waited on many celebrities but it hasn’t been the high flyers keeping us alive all these years, it’s been our guests who have saved their hard-earned dollars for a special dinner at the cottage.
“Our suppliers, staff and customers have basically become our acquaintances.
“It’s been an amazing journey.
“But sadly, it’s time.”
And now, it seems, it’s time for the former restaurant, too.